18 Mar Ireland have a lot riding on this weekend against Scotland – Reggie Corner
What a difference a year makes. Last year Ireland retained back to back championships, no mean feat and we were heading into a World Cup full of optimism and talk of our best ever run in the tournament.
A year later we have failed to go any further than any Irish teams of the past in the RWC and we play a resurgent Scotland in a bid to put some semblance of respectability on the season.
Amongst plenty of talk about what direction Ireland are going in, Scotland come to town and few could argue that they have every right to think they will get the job done.
Vern Cotter has done incredible work with this Scottish side. They were robbed in the World Cup and have now amassed two wins in a row in this years Championship.
So what’s going to happen?
Well there is no better man positioned than Vern Cotter who knows Schmidt well. Remember Schmidt was his understudy at Clermont and is a very shrewd operator in his own right.
He has somehow instilled a self-belief in this Scottish side that is great to watch and produces some truly fantastic rugby.
I’m excited about this one, the weather forecast is good and make no mistake Scotland will come to Dublin to run the ball. The defence was scrutinized after the English game and as a result, wrongly in my opinion, Stuart McCloskey found himself out of the match day 23 for Jared Payne. Payne deserves his place but for me it would be at full back and let’s see what McCloskey is made of.
We saw some great moments of rugby from Ireland last week which excited the crowd but to be honest they weren’t up against much. It was as poor an Italian side as I have seen for years. As a result we are still somewhat in the dark.
The enormity of this game will not be lost on Joe and his coaching staff and indeed the players, but I can’t help but feel Scotland have the momentum coming into this.
I’m very much hoping for a great Irish performance to bring us to the end with some confidence for the future but these Scottish boys are tricky and don’t be surprised if they throw a spanner in the Paddy’s day celebrations.